Oscar Pareja is returning to Major League Soccer for a third stint.
The former Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas coach will now be plying his trade for Orlando City SC, leading Nani and Dom Dwyer as the fourth full-time coach in six MLS seasons.
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A longtime Dallas player and assistant, Pareja led the Rapids to the playoffs in 2013 before leaving for the head job at his former club.
FCD won the Supporters’ Shield and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup under his watch before he left for Club Tijuana in 2018, where he went 23W-4D-21L.
Here’s Pareja, via OrlandoCitySC.com:
“The future of this Club is extremely bright, with so many opportunities to grow and succeed at all levels of the Club – from the new training facility to the world-class stadium and from the Development Academy all the way to the MLS side. Orlando is an incredible soccer city, with an especially passionate and dedicated fan base. I can’t wait to get started.”
Pareja should be a huge asset in developing the club’s top young talents into professionals, but he’s got a lot of work to do in building a competitive roster. Orlando finished eight points out of the playoffs in a league in which making the playoffs isn’t that difficult of a proposition.
Oscar Pareja has been named the fourth head coach of Orlando City SC, MLS’s proverbial revolving-door job, since the franchise joined the league five years ago.
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After spending 18 seasons with FC Dallas as a player, academy coach and head coach, Pareja left Dallas and MLS in November of 2018 to take over at Club Tijuana in Liga MX. The 51-year-old Colombian was relieved of his duties as Tijuana boss last week.
Pareja was highly regarded for his preference to play young, academy-developed players during his time in Dallas, something the hierarchy in Orlando will be hoping he can replicate while also guiding the Lions to their first-ever MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.
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“Oscar is the perfect fit for the Orlando City organization, something I can say with confidence from our history of working together,” Orlando City SC EVP of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi said in a team release. “He possesses the talent and passion to help our Club reach both its short term goals on the field and long-term plans for the organization. Oscar checked all the boxes we were looking to fill and his vision is aligned with the plans that we have as a Club – to invest in and develop players at all levels of our pyramid to be both proud and successful when wearing the Orlando City crest.”
Orlando City SC has fired its third (permanent) head coach in five MLS seasons, with James O’Connor the latest to come and go in short order on Monday.
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O’Connor was hired to replace head coach no. 2, Jason Kreis, in July 2018. He last exactly one and a half season — 51 games — and compiled a record of 11W-13D-27L, including a 2W-3D-12L run to finish the 2018 season. The Lions, while in playoff contention, went winless in their final eight games in 2019, conceding 18 goals during the stretch run. Orlando finished the season 11th in the Eastern Conference, eight points off a playoff place.
“On behalf of Orlando City we want to thank James for all of his efforts during his coaching tenure at Orlando,” the club’s statement read. “We wish James the best of luck in the next phase of his coaching career.”
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Orlando City, yet to make a playoff appearance since joining MLS in 2015, will begin its search for a new coach immediately.
The game in 200 words (or less): The New York Red Bulls needed a little help from the woodwork to escape Orlando with a victory on Sunday, and they got it — not once, not twice, but three times in the second half. After scoring the game’s only goal just past the half-hour mark, Luis Robles and Co., held on for dear life as Orlando City SC attacked with wave after wave of pressure. Robles made four saves, while the posts and crossbar made three more for him. Brian White scored the goal, assisted by Kaku, his seventh of the season. The victory sees the Red Bulls climb past New York City FC for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, now just a point back of D.C. United in third and two back of Atlanta United in second.
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Three moments that mattered
32′ — White finishes Kaku’s curling ball — Brian Rowe is unlucky not to make the save, but it would have been a grave crime against brilliance for this ball from Kaku not to result in a goal.
60′ — Ascues hits the crossbar — Woodwork.
77′ — Kljestan smashes the post — Woodwork again. The follow-up accidentally hits Robles as he’s lying on the ground.
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Man of the match: Luis Robles/posts and crossbar
Goalscorers: White (32′)
Strap yourself in for a very busy Sunday of soccer, as four MLS games are set to consume your attention for the rest of the day.
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The day begins with Atlanta United hosting D.C. United in a 3-versus-2 matchup in the Eastern Conference, and ends with the Seattle Sounders hosting the Portland Timbers in arguably the biggest and best rivalry in MLS.
In between all that, a suddenly resurgent Orlando City SC hosts the New York Red Bulls, and FC Cincinnati hosts the red-hot (unbeaten in nine games) New England Revolution, in case you feel the need to cram a little more soccer into your afternoon/evening.
Sunday’s full MLS schedule
Atlanta United v. D.C. United — 4 p.m. ET
FC Cincinnati v. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC v. New York Red Bulls — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Portland Timbers — 9:30 p.m. ET